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Ex-Whitbread manager buys Soho's Coach and Horses

08 June 2006

A former Whitbread manager has snapped up the Coach and Horses, one of the West End's most famous pubs and a popular haunt of theatre and media stars such as Francis Bacon, Peter O'Toole, Peter Cook, Jeffrey Bernard and the Private Eye team.

The pub at 29 Greek Street, Soho, was sold after 62 years under the ownership of the "famously sharp-tongued" Norman Balon, who styled himself as "London's rudest landlord".

Balon's father took on the tenancy of the pub (which has traded since 1847) in 1943 and Balon took over in 1944.

The Coach and Horses has hosted lunches for Private Eye for some 35 years and was the inspiration for Michael Heath's cartoon strip The Regulars in the satirical magazine.

Its interior was recreated on the stage in 1989 for Keith Waterhouse's hit play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell which depicted the drunken exploits of one of its most well-known patrons, who wrote the Low Life column in the Spectator.

The new owners are Alastair Choat (a former general manager for Whitbread and Geronimo Inns) and criminal defence lawyers Melanie Kundy and Greg Stewart.

They bought the leasehold off a guide price of £250,000.

The London office of Christie + Co marketed the property on behalf of Balon, who celebrated his 79th birthday during the sale.

By Angela Frewin

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